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Mailbag: Extra Scrutiny From Hard Knocks?

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Do you think the Cowboys being featured on HBO's "Hard Knocks" will put too much pressure or scrutiny on them to make it to the playoffs (or deep into the playoffs)? The two times Dallas was on theshow their record was 5-11 and 9-7. Or does it just go with the territory?— JAMES JORDAN / CONVERSE, TX

David: Honestly, I think it's just par for the course. There's pressure and scrutiny on this team seven days a week, 365 days a year. The quarterback just signed a $160 million contract that's going to make him the most scrutinized player in the league. What difference are a few extra HBO cameras going to make? The bottom line is that playing for the Dallas Cowboys comes with a spotlight that never goes away. It might be annoying, but I don't think filming "Hard Knocks" for a few weeks is going to make a huge difference.

Nick: Too much pressure or scrutiny for the Cowboys? Is that a thing? I think you said it best at the end - yes it goes with the territory. The NFL knows the Cowboys will sell and that's why they want them on Hard Knocks. Whether or not you believe the guy at ESPN who claims to hate the Cowboys and their fans, he really knows what sells and that's why he talks about them. So yes, it goes with the territory or as Jason Garrett would say, "it comes with the dinner." I would say there's probably some truth in the fact that most teams on Hard Knocks don't have great seasons. For the Cowboys, those two years, I would say it came down to the quarterback. Either the starting QB got hurt and missed three crucial games in 2008 or the two guys that started in 2002 weren't very good and that's why the teams missed the playoffs. But without a doubt, Hard Knocks puts another target on the Cowboys' backs for this year. But what else is new?

What do you think of Nick Ralston's chances of making the roster? In his life he's played running back, fullback, tight end, and linebacker. That kind of versatility is rare, and I think he's worth holding onto. What do you guys think? — MITCH GRAHAM / ALBUQUERQUE, NM

David: I'm interested to see this guy get onto a practice field. In this day and age, I'm not convinced the Cowboys would carry a pure fullback when they could just ask a spare running back or tight end to fill that role. But, as you mentioned, if Ralston can fill two or three roles on offense in addition to playing special teams, I could imagine them finding a spot for him. At this exact moment, I don't think I'd include him on my 53-man roster – but that's what training camp is for. He'll have plenty of opportunities to prove me wrong.

Nick: I can't tell you Nick Ralston will make the 53-man roster. I can't promise you he'll make the practice squad. But I'll say this, and I seriously have no inside information on this, but I'll make a prediction right now he'll be one of the featured players on Hard Knocks. He seems to fit exactly what they like to focus on. He's a local guy who is a hard-working, blue-collar long shot that will do whatever it takes. We'll see his background that includes pulling 18-wheeler trucks and all that. He'll be a name that you know by the end of camp. But those guys get cut, too. So to make it, he'll need these four preseason games to show he can be valuable on offense and a difference maker on special teams.

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